Getting started on ancient Greek
Getting started on ancient Greek

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Getting started on ancient Greek

6 Diphthongs

Greek vowels can be combined to form a new sound. The same phenomenon can be observed in English words like ‘pair’ or ‘shout’, where two vowels work together to create a sound distinct from that of the individual vowels.

This combination is called a diphthong, ‘double sound’, from the Greek prefix di- (δίς, dis = twice) and (φθογγή, phthongē = sound; recall that double gamma makes an ng sound). The Greek diphthongs are shown below, and spoken out loud, along with an example of a word using each diphthong.

αι  καί, kai = and

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio12_1.mp3
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αu  αὐτός, autos = self

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio12_2.mp3
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ει  λείπω, leipо̄ = I leave

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio12_3.mp3
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ευ  εὑρίσκω, heuriskо̄ = I find

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio12_4.mp3
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οι  οἴμοι, oimoi = alas!

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio12_5.mp3
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ου  ἀκούω, akouо̄ = I hear

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio12_6.mp3
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Other combinations of vowels should be pronounced separately. For example, the iota and epsilon in:

ἱερόν  hieron = temple

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio12_7.mp3
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Breathings appear above the second letter of a diphthong: this explains why the breathing sits above the second letter of αὐτός and εὑρίσκω, but the first letter of ἱερόν.

Activity 4 Speaking aloud (4)

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Say the following words, then listen to the pronunciation.

Ἀθηναῖος (= Athenian)

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio13_1.mp3
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δεῖπνον (= meal)

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio13_2.mp3
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oὐ (= not)

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio13_3.mp3
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φεύγω (= I run away)

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio13_4.mp3
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πλοῖον (= vessel)

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio13_5.mp3
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Ἰούλιος Καῖσαρ (= Julius Caesar)

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio13_6.mp3
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Discussion

The words are as follows:

  • Ἀθηναῖος (Athēnaios)
  • δεῖπνον (deipnon)
  • oὐ (ou)
  • φεύγω (pheugо̄)
  • πλοῖον (ploion)
  • Ἰούλιος Καῖσαρ (Ioulios Kaisar)

Now, identify the number of syllables in the following words, then pronounce them out loud. You will be able to listen to audios in the discussion afterwards.

1. βίος

a. 

one


b. 

two


c. 

three


The correct answer is b.

2. οἰκία

a. 

one


b. 

two


c. 

three


The correct answer is c.

3. ποιέω

a. 

one


b. 

two


c. 

three


The correct answer is c.

4. Οἰδίπους

a. 

one


b. 

two


c. 

three


The correct answer is c.

5. ποιεῖ

a. 

one


b. 

two


c. 

three


The correct answer is b.

Discussion

βίος, bios = life

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio14_1.mp3
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οἰκία, oikia = house

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio14_2.mp3
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ποιέω, poieо̄ = I make

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio14_3.mp3
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Οἰδίπους, Oidipous = the Theban king Oedipus

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio14_4.mp3
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ποιεῖ, poiei = he, she or it makes

Download this audio clip.Audio player: gcg_1_audio14_5.mp3
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GCG_1

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